Race Time: 2.10pm Meeting: Sandown Day: Friday 19th February 2016 Full Race Name: “Ubique” Handicap Chase Class Three
An interesting handicap this week with just the nine runners but an age range of seven up to eleven and twenty-six pounds between top and bottom on official ratings……
1 Helium (14/1) – Might be a veteran at the age of eleven but has been in great form this season with wins at Worcester and Ludlow (twice). He has been put up in the weights for those wins, which appeared to stop him at Ludlow Haydock and then Taunton. Down two pounds for his last run he is still nine pounds higher than his last victory, and may be handicapped out of things.
2 Blandfords Gunner (10/3) – Very lightly raced for a seven year old with just the seven career starts, five unsuccessfully over hurdles and two over fences, including a win last time out at Leicester. Put up a ridiculous nine pounds for that win, he did still have a bit up his sleeve and is certainly open to any amount of improvement, though his inexperience may count against him in this field, ditto the softer going.
3 Fairy Rath (11/1) – A course winner in January 2105 over half a mile further, Nick Gifford’s ten year old hasn’t won since despite eight more visits to the track. Slowly slipping down the weights but may need further to be seen at his best these days, though he is re united with jockey Tom Cannon who has won on him three times and will be staying on through beaten horses, possibly in to a place today.
4 Legal Exit (6/1) – Yet to win over fences but has only had the four attempts, with his best run a well beaten third behind Un De Sceaux at Fairyhouse when trained by Jim Culloty in Ireland. Now with Tom Lacey the jockey booking of Richard Johnson catches the eye as he drops back to the minimum trip, and he may run a big race at a half decent price
5 Minella Definitely (8/1) – This is certainly his trip based on his hurdling form, though he is hard to fancy over the larger obstacles with just the one win at Wincanton from ten attempts. Neil Mulholland has his string in decent enough heart so he could run well, but he does look up against it and will need to find a spark from somewhere to get involved in this company.
6 The Clock Leary (10/1) – Although the eight-year-old son of Helissio hasn’t won since November 2014, he was put up twelve pounds for that victory and has struggled ever since. He is finally down to what may well be a winning mark of just two pounds higher than his Ascot win, but he seems better over further and may still struggle this afternoon.
7 Sunny Ledgend (6/1) – The in form option this afternoon even at the age of eleven having won two of his three races this season at Towcester and Market Rasen, though both were over further than this two miles. He will have to carry seven pounds more than his highest ever winning mark if he wants to add this to his CV. and although sure to run well, that may be asking too much over this shorter trip.
8 Bodega (7/1) – Only the two runs over fences make the eight year old a bit of an unknown quantity, but he does look to have some potential. His first effort saw him less than seven lengths behind Hollywoodien at Ascot despite a bad blunder, and he patently failed to see out the two and a half miles at Warwick when sent off the 5/2 joint favourite. Back at the minimum trip and off a rating seven ponds lower than his best hurdle mark, he could be well handicapped today and has a great each way chance in our view.
9 Lord Lir (14/1) – Bottom weight looks encouraging but his best form is on better ground including wins in Class Five handicaps at Cartmel and Worcester, the first off a rating of 85 and the second off of 96. Put up to 105 after that he was third at both Kempton and Huntingdon in small fields in Class Four events and off of a pound lower and up in class, he ought to find this too difficult.
An intriguing race that looks to be between two horses to us – the improving Blandfords Gunner and unknown quantity Bodega (7/1). On softer going we will side with the Ian Williams trained/Will Kennedy ridden eight year old, who should prefer conditions, though at his odds, each way may yet be the sensible option and a bet to nothing at the price if he places.